The Cleveland Browns have proven their point. They were not giving up on the season when they made the move to unload Trent Richardson for a first round pick. They were able to win without him, but the Browns now find themselves at 4-7 and completely helpless on offense. The past two weeks, the offense is giving the opponent more points than they are scoring. Rob Chudzinski and his coaching staff have gotten every bit out of some has-been’s and some never-were’s, but the Browns are at the point in the season where they need to lose. They would be best served by not winning a game the rest of the season and finishing 4-12.
8-8 does not make the Browns better. Not having double digit losses again would notable because they have had an ugly run of teams that have won 10 or more games in a season, but with where the Browns are as a franchise, it does not help them get better. The Browns need a quarterback and that was basically a given going into the season, but this year has made it painfully clear just how badly.
Yes, the Browns have ammunition to trade up and get a quarterback, but there are a couple of problems in that scenario. First, they have to give up assets to do it. Second, a team has to be willing to trade. The Browns would obviously be better off being able to use both first round picks on players than using them both for a single player, but they need a quarterback.
This not high school or college football; the Browns cannot simply recruit a quarterback. They have to go get one. It should be painfully clear just how much a franchise quarterback is needed to win consistently and be a contender to win the Super Bowl. Since the franchise has been back, they have had the chance to get one franchise quarterback; Tim Couch. Whether he had the talent to be the guy is debatable, but what is not debatable is the situation he was put in, like with David Carr, was a recipe for disaster. Since then, the Browns have taken two first round quarterbacks in Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. Quinn failed while Weeden had no business ever being drafted that high.
This front office did not draft any of these other guys nor did they pick Charlie Frye, Colt McCoy, Luke McCown, Spergeon Wynn or any of the laundry list of other names that are on that picture always revisited on Twitter. Visiting the sins of previous front offices on them is stupid and does not change the fact the Browns need a quarterback. They need to keep trying until they get it right.
The Baltimore and then Indianpolis Colts took Art Schlichter and John Elway #1 overall in back to back drafts, which both ended in disaster for the Colts. They took Jeff George. It took them about 25 years in all before they went from one great quarterback in Bert Jones to get to Peyton Manning. They now have Andrew Luck. In fact, the Colts went from a being a perennial contender that won double digit games every year to one year where they finish 2-14, get the top pick in the NFL Draft and set themselves up for another decade.
People will argue the Browns need to learn how to win and that losing will hurt this team going forward. I do not believe that the young players on this Browns defense need to win to understand they are getting better and making a difference. They have had back to back weeks where the Browns offense and special teams have given up more points than the defense has. The defense is good enough to be a playoff team now and should only get better. It can get to a championship level. The guys in that locker room are not stupid and they know that without seeing it in the standings. It is not fun, but it is where this team is.
As much as guys like Joe Thomas are tired of losing, if he was injected with sodium pentothal, he and any number of other players on the offense would admit the Browns are good enough to win if they had a legitimate quarterback as well as some other players to make this offense more effective.
These guys are all going to say the right things in public and try to work their butts off to make sure that any quarterback behind center can win; they are professionals and that is what they do in addition to trying to get better for their own sake to improve their own legacy and earning power. Nevertheless, 4-12 is a better result for this team than 8-8 or 7-9.
Recent weeks have made this situation increasingly hopeful for the Browns if they were to drop their last five games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from hopeless to winning three in a row and possibly having a quarterback they like in Mike Glennon. If they do like Glennon, that would take them out of the running for a quarterback in May and the way they are going, they may play their way out of it anyway.
The Jacksonville Jaguars who did not seem interested in getting to a single win now have two wins and are playing far better. They also play the Browns week 13, so a loss there would only further help the Browns. The Minnesota Vikings are 2-8-1 and Houston Texans are at 2-9. The hope is that these teams will find ways to win and ultimately find ways to get ahead of the Browns in the standings to move the Browns up in the draft. Those are the main contenders that appear to be a threat to take a quarterback next May.
Losing sucks; it is not fun, but little about this season has been since Brian Hoyer went down with an ACL tear. Watching this offense try to rub two sticks together to start a fire while opposing teams have a Zippo is downright painful at times. The defense provides some nice moments and occasionally the offense can make a big play, but the number of holes on this team is overwhelming on the offensive side of the ball. They have the ammunition to deal with it, but better draft position makes it so they can hopefully have a better opportunity to make the right choices and set this offense up for success. Draft position would not be an overwhelming concern if the Browns had a quarterback to build their future around, but that is not the case and it becomes critical. As a result, the Browns are in a position where they need to get as high in the draft as possible and hope teams can continue to win and help them move up the draft.
The Browns need multiple running backs. They need a tight end to complement Jordan Cameron and hopefully someone who can block inline as well as catch the football. They need another front line wide receiver to pair with Josh Gordon while also being insurance for him. They also need offensive line help, notably at guard. Better draft position improves the chances of having the right guys on the board to make the pick.
The class of quarterbacks that will be in the draft this year is unclear. The front office has a significant amount of work to do on the prospects this year and the declaring underclassmen will have a huge impact. Derek Carr, the senior quarterback of Fresno State, is the only quarterback that is definitely going to be in the draft that warrants going that high and while he would be a fantastic get for the Browns, he could ultimately end up going before the Browns pick, unfortunately. As a result, they have to see which quarterbacks come out including likely Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel among them with a number of quarterbacks that could declare. Hopefully, the Browns are in a position where they can take a quarterback worth the pick that fits what they want to do at the top of the draft (I am personally rooting for Carr to be the pick).
Chud and this team are not going to lie down. It would be helpful if they did, but that is not going to happen. They are going to try to win. Nevertheless, the best result for the Browns is to ultimately lose out and end up 4-12.
The best move to accomplish the goal of 4-12 might be to play Weeden the rest of the year. Weeden has been an unmitigated disaster since he was drafted, but the best thing he could do for the organization would be to come out and be the best Weeden he can be; be awful and lead the Browns to 5 more losses, which is exactly what his talents suggest he can do. Hell, go sign Tim Tebow. Let him run the offense for the last 5 games. He can lose them all like a champ too and all of the sycophantic supporters can watch him be bad and then go away forever.
I believe in Chud and like the rest of the coaching staff. I believe that with a quarterback with the talent, they can make them succeed at an extremely high level. This group made Jason Campbell believable enough for Mary Kay Cabot to suggest he was playing at an elite level for two weeks, so I like their prospects with someone like Carr and a running game.
Call it anti-football, not being a real fan, or whatever. I have heard it all. Ultimately, I want the Browns to win a Super Bowl. Being an 8-8 team with a terrible offense that needs a franchise quarterback as opposed to a 4-12 team with a terrible offense that needs a franchise quarterback makes no difference. The 8-8 team will have a much more difficult time getting a franchise quarterback and until the Browns have one, they are not going to be a legitimate contender. All of the warm and fuzzies that come from winning meaningless games count for nothing when the team is still without a franchise quarterback next season and the end of the season comes with more meaningless games. The best way to get a franchise quarterback is to finish in the position to get one in the draft in a year where one or more is available. This is one of those years. The Browns need to get in position to get one and the best way to accomplish that is losing every single game the rest of this year.